Humans remain creatures of the natural world in so many ways. We echo nature’s colours and pulsing rhythms of light and shade. We unconsciously imitate the perfection of the universe although we assert that we are superior and have risen above the animal and plant kingdom.
We use substances of the Earth to make pigments and construct instruments to apply them, and yet we are always aspiring to be better, to create something superior, to outshine with our progress and sophistication.
We rarely stop to acknowledge that without natural resources we would not be able to create anything.
And we could ask for whom are we creating? To become immortalized for our genius, to make money, to display our so-called ‘talents,’ to ventilate our unique mechanistic minds?
Traditional Landowners in the Australian outback create for very different reasons. A Traditional Landowner, chosen for his or her spiritual elevation, ‘owns’ thousands of miles of the Dreaming Lands. He or she must curate the Land forms and phenomena and celebrate the creation stories with songs and paintings.
Every artwork is a visible sign, a testament of harmony in all things for the spirit guardians or creation heroes to see; each brush stroke, or rock chisel mark or stipple or speck, is in veneration of ancestors and Father Earth and the Great Mother Nature. Artists do not practise: their painting is a live performance.
Decorating Hollow Bone Coffins to hold the precious bone fragments of their ancestors is a serious occupation. Their grandeur will pay tribute to the human life and spiritual lessons learned in the eyes of the Sky Heroes, and to the next stage of traveling on in the Sky.
As the Djang approaches, the final glorious death ceremony, larger square coffins are made to convey the sun-dried corpse to the burial fires, but only the underside is decorated with secret symbols describing the life of the deceased so that that Father Earth and Mother Nature will know.
Making art is a sacred duty to these wise people. It is dedicated entirely to the Earth and the Sky.
If only we secular people could find such sacred duties once again. Art would take a very different turn if we did.
Gorgeous images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita, Linden Thorp and Megapixyl.com